According to traditional records, Islam officially entered Chinese soil in 651 when an entourage sent by Caliph Usman bin Affan came.
This group of ‘tabligh’ (spreaders of religion) was led by Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqas, who was the uncle of the Prophet himself. At that time China was under the control of the Tang dynasty led by emperor Gaozong.
This group was very well received by Emperor Gaozong, even the emperor ordered the construction of a mosque in honor of the Prophet of Muslims, Muhammad PBUH. This mosque became the first mosque in Chinese soil in Canton.
Some historians say that unofficially, Islam had entered China long before the entourage led by Saad bin Abi Waqqas came. That is through Arab and western Asian traders. These Muslims then lived for generations in China.
Their simple, reliable, and “low profile” way of life makes these circles easily accepted by the Han (native Chinese).
The arrival of Saad along with 3 other companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), made Islam known and officially accepted in China. Some mosques were built, there was even a tomb where Saad’s father was buried.
By the time the Song dynasty was founded in 960, Muslims had played an important role in China’s economy. There are already many Han (native Chinese) who later converted to Islam. Many of the Muslims sit in government.
In 1070, emperor Shenzong enlisted the help of 5,300 Muslim soldiers from Bukhara during his conflict with the Liao Empire. After the conflict was over, many of these soldiers remained in China and received great honor from the emperor and the Chinese nation.
Several important books in the Song era also had influence from Islamic culture, such as The Chinese materia medica 52, which was revised in the Song era by adding some treatments taken from ibn Sina’s book: The Canon of Medicine.
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Yuan Dynasty, History of Islam in China
The Mongols invaded Chinese lands and captured the country in 1271. The Mongols then took control of China, and used Muslim power to replace the Han (native Chinese) in the government.
These Muslims were forcibly brought in from Central Asia. This politics was used by the Mongols so that the Han no longer had power in their own lands. In contrast, the Mongols also sent the Chinese to become government administrators in Central Asia. This tactic is so that Muslims themselves also do not have power in their own land.
In China, the Mongols acted arbitrarily towards their colonies. Chinese Muslims are prohibited from halal slaughtering animals. They are forbidden to eat halal food. Sometimes they are even forbidden to worship.
Jengis Khan, the Mongol emperor, even referred to muslims and Jews who were there as slaves. Both religions are forbidden to circumcise.
Although many Muslim energy used by the Mongols, among others in the latest technological discoveries in that era (trebuchet is one of the tools of war created by Muslims used by the Mongols).
This caused so much anger among Chinese Muslims that they planned to expel the Mongols.
Muslim generals and warriors later joined the rebels from the Han tribe. This movement was successful and the Mongols were successfully expelled from China. The Han people have now established a new empire called the Ming Empire.
Unfortunately, some muslim generals were very meritorious, killed and imprisoned without fault. The reason was simply because the emperor was afraid that they would rebel with him.
Ming Dynasty, Part of islam history
Although the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Hongwe, assassinated Muslim generals, he himself still greatly valued Islam.
Although he was not a Muslim, emperor Hongwu wrote a poem that highly praised Islam entitled “The Hundred-word Eulogy”. He also ordered the construction of many mosques in each city. The emperor also wrote a poem praising the Prophet.
Under the Ming dynasty, China entered a golden era where the economy was growing rapidly, the country was stable, and culture and technology were drastically advanced.
In this era, nanjing area became the center of Islamic religious teaching. Admiral Zeng He (Ceng Ho) who is famous for his large fleet and expeditions around the world also comes from this era. The Ming dynasty even conducted trade agreements and military pacts with Islamic kingdoms in the archipelago.
Such is the history of Islam and China that is actually very close. People today must dig more and explore history in order to be able to learn and take the wisdom. May we continue to be at peace. Amen.